Today, I wanted to let you know that I have decided to stop punishing my kids. Yeah, you read that right. But it is because I feel as if I have found a different way and I think it is far superior. As I mentioned, I have decided to work my best efforts at abandoning punishment in favor of discipline.
Discipline and punishment: are they really the same thing?
I feel as if discipline and punishment are often used interchangeably these days especially in the way we talk about parenting our children. I believe there are some key differences, and that’s the subject of this post. And I also wanted to show you an example of what it looks like around here with discipline versus punishment for our very amazing and full of gusto five-year-old. So the example is how are we going to handle her not listening. I’m going to show you what does it looks like using punishment and what does it look like using discipline?
“Hey, I have told you like, I don’t know, five times to clean your room. What the heck’s…what’s wrong? Why are you not cleaning your room? Why are you not listening? Because you’re not listening, no movie for the rest of the week!” [PUNISHMENT]
“Sweetie, I’ve asked you to clean your room now a few times and you’re not getting it cleaned. You have been doing a really, really great job about keeping your room clean, especially when I’ve asked you to do it and I’m really proud of you for that. But up until and, you know, just recently, today, and the last few days, you haven’t been listening very well. And honey, you’re my little princess and princesses don’t live in junky, dirty rooms. So unfortunately, as a consequence because you haven’t been doing as mommy has asked, we are going to put away some of your toys in the garage until you have a little bit of time to think about what it looks like to get your room cleaned and to respect what mommy says and your toys.” [DISCIPLINE]
What are some differences between discipline and punishment?
Let’s talk a little bit about the differences between discipline and punishment. And I’ll admit, it’s actually taken a mind shift for me because I, like probably many of you, have used it interchangeably until I stepped back and started looking at this. So let’s talk about some of the examples of the differences between the two.
When I punish my child, I’m looking into the past. I am settling a wrong. Discipline, however, is to keep wrongs from settling in.
- This next one is a really big one for me. When I punish, I’m parenting out of fear in hopes that my anger, or by me yelling, or by me being really stern and serious that that is going to create enough fear in my kid that they will do as they are told.
- In other words, I feel as if when I punish my intention is to “scare them into good behavior.” I’m not convinced that works very well. It might work for the moment, but what is that teaching them?
- My attitude when I punish is often going to be anger or frustration. I don’t know about you, but when I tell my kid to do something and she doesn’t do what I tell her, and I’m tired or frustrated, the reaction can quickly move into anger and punishment.
When I discipline my child, I looking towards the future, the opposite of punishment, which usually looks to what has past.
- When I use discipline, my response to my child is actually more of a position of my heart, and it’s a position based on love. It means I’m loving them into good behavior instead of trying to scare them into good behavior.
- And with discipline, my attitude towards my child is going to be love and it’s going to be thinking about her future and about moving forward from this point.
I feel like the cost of punishment in children can be fear and guilt. Those are not two things that I want to be responsible for putting in my kid. But my feelings on discipline is going to be the payoff in the sense of security for my kid because if I’m not parenting her with anger and fear, but instead I’m coming to her with love, she’s going to feel a whole lot more secure.
What does my heart look like? And what is the root of childish misbehavior?
I feel like one of the biggest differences with punishment and discipline is it’s really a matter of what my heart looks like. My heart attitude when I discipline is that I have a really good kid who sometimes makes really bad decisions. And I’m going to help her correct that and help her learn from that for the future good.
As often as I can, I definitely want to get to the root of what is causing bad behavior. If I can understand the root it’s going to help me figure out how I want to deal with the whole situation. Most of the time I have a really good kid. It’s not that she’s trying to be a little turd. It’s often just that there’s some simple root that if I can address it’s probably going to help and maybe even resolve the problem. So I’m always going to try to find the root of what this bad behavior is all about. Because at least in the case of my daughter, it’s rarely malicious and so I want to try to understand that better.
I want to focus on encouragement and praise with my children
Another thing I really want to do and I’m working at doing is I to to encourage my children when they make good choices. I want to praise them as often as I can. My goal is to praise my daughter more often than than I correct her –because when I do correct her, I want her to listen. And I want her to have a sense that I see her behavior as overwhelmingly good, with a few mistakes here and there.
When I was part of the working world, I had a boss who was absolutely amazing. One of the things that she did is when there was a criticism was to sandwich it in between two positives. And I’ll tell you it did wonders as far as how I was reacted and whether I beat myself up later or not. I think the same can be true with kids. If we’re going to discipline, let’s make sure that the things that they’re hearing outside of that are good things: and especially praise and encouragement. I want to be “calling out the gold” my kids….not the stuff that doesn’t shine.
I want to wrap my discipline with kindness
When talking to my I want to be firm. But my primary goal is is to wrap my discipline with kindness because first and foremost, I want to be a good role model. When they go out into the world, I would like them to be kind to people. When my daughters make mistakes, I always want to keep perspective: right now I have a five-year old. But hey, I’m a mom and it happens all the time. So when my kids make mistakes, I want to use those opportunities to teach them. I want there to be a lesson to learn if possible. I don’t always get that right and I miss an opportunity to show them something so it’s definitely not something I’ve perfected, probably won’t ever.
And….I need to be consistent
Consistency is a big deal here. I know that sometimes it’s easy because I HAVE been consistent. I also know that sometimes it’s NOT easy to be consistent with discipline. It’s just hard if I’m trying to cook dinner, and I’ve got the baby hanging on me, or getting into cupboards or whatever, and I’m just f.l.u.s.t.e.r.e.d. It’s easy to let it slide off or let them get away with things because I’ve got other stuff I have to get done.
But I have ever seen that consistency is so very important. Kids are opportunistic, they’re smart and if they see, “Oh, okay: if mom is really busy or if she’s got this going on, I could probably get away with this.” It’s because they’re bad kids, it’s just because they’re opportunistic. And learning.
My kid is smart, if there’s a reaction and it’s the same thing every single time except for when mom’s cooking dinner, guess what my kid’s going to do when I’m cooking dinner? She’s going to run amok and be crazy. So I have to be consistent and it’s takes effort on my part, but it’s better in the long run because then I don’t lose my brain and freak out on my kid.
Recurring bad behavior
Lastly, I want to talk about bad behavior that is happening over, and over, and over. There’s a reason for it, whether it’s a certain circumstance, or there’s something in our routine at home, or there’s something at school. If there’s something that’s consistently happening over and over again, I want to stop and try to figure out. Again, like I mentioned earlier, I want to get back to the root of the problem. When I see this bad behavior happening over and again, it’s going to be my goal to figure out what’s happening and just nip it right there.
As a disclaimer, I need to let you know obviously, I am not an expert and I don’t always get this right. In fact, I don’t get it right a lot of the time. However, I have identified a goal and that’s what I’m chasing after. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, I am dishing out punishment left and right. And I don’t want to do that, but sometimes it happens. But as we’ve talked about throughout this video, discipline is my heart for my daughters, not punishment.
Don’t punish yourself, either
Sometimes it’s easy to punish ourselves as adults for things that we’ve done in our life, or for bad choices, or things in the past. But I would encourage you: don’t do it. That can be just as detrimental to your emotional health as it can be for a kid. So just don’t. I would definitely encourage you to NOT punish yourself, love yourself. I definitely feel like there’s room in our lives for self-discipline and again, as we’ve talked about, discipline and punishment are different. And that applies to an adult life too. So I would encourage you don’t punish yourself, don’t beat yourself up, it’s a waste of brain power.
I hope what we have here helps you identify what kind of parenting techniques you want to use and maybe how you can roll some of this into your own life with your own kids. Hopefully, it’s helpful for you. Like I said, it’s definitely not something that I get right every day, but it’s something that I’m actively working towards.
Do you have ideas about this issue to share with me and other readers? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share in the comments below.
As you can see from the video link at the top, I have a YouTube channel called The KT Files. That’s what my family sometimes called me when I was younger: “KT”. We would love to have you as a subscriber to the channel…..check it out and see if you are interested! We so have a Facebook page if you want to check us out there, also called The KT Files.
I hope this has been helpful for you as it is becoming for us! See you next time!